Friday, June 29, 2012

Put On Your Big Girl Jeans And Go To Work


So, here’s some work navel gazing instead of surgery navel gazing.  I’m having a bit of a fit problem. 

My primary, and before I went on maternity leave, only, responsibility at work was the litigation end of things at my organization—I am the attorney in our office that goes to court to help represent the best interest of children who are being abused or neglected.  Now that I am back, it’s more complicated.

I was terrified of court in law school and convinced I could never do what I am doing now.  Lo and behold, here I am, doing it and doing it reasonably well, and if not totally over the fear, able to mask it fairly well.  I even enjoy it.  It’s a tangible fix, and I really see the positive effect I and my organization can have.  Before I went on maternity leave, my docket was growing so that I was the attorney with the moist cases in my office.  After we had our little employee shake up, I was the most senior attorney and the one the courts, court staff, and attorneys turned to. 

Then I went on maternity leave.

Moms out there in the legal profession, you know what I am about to say, right?  I came back, but things were different; they held my job, but not my place (in all fairness, how could they?  They had to keep growing and doing their work in the time I was gone); I am a different person now, but the job is the same; my connections, my work, my status, my reputation… they didn’t degrade, or even slip, they just…changed

We hired another attorney just before I went on maternity leave, and I love her. She is great to work with, extremely competent, friendly, believes in the work, etc.  I handed over most of my admin responsibilities to her when I left.  I handed over my docket.  I handed over my contact, my secrets, my relationships, etc.  I made sure that everything would go smoothly when I was gone.  I wanted her as integrated as possible.  And she is, and it has been wonderful.

But its left me a little out of place, now that I am back.  Believe me when I say I am not jealous, or feeling possessive, or wanting to be the boss.  I worked with that for a long time, and I am relieved that person is gone.  I am utterly relieved that I can share responsibility without everything being a power play, without mind games, without secret manipulations.  It’s just different.

Then there’s the job responsibilities themselves.  Since I work a day or two a week from home, it means I am not always free for litigation.  It also means I  have been doing more of the research, writing, and publishing aspect of our organization.  I LOVE IT.  Unabashedly, unequivocally.  I love digging into the newer and ever more bizarre cases and facts, the nitty gritty rules, the newest outrageous legislation, and laying all bare in a very understandable manner.  I’ve gotten a major ego boost having my work suddenly published, and used in statewide trainings.  In doing all this work, I am working with one of the best and brightest minds in children’s law in Indiana, and one of the top in the nation.  I am not exaggerating—we are talking statewide sought-after person here.  This person is a huge part of why I am doing so well—I have an amazing teacher.

So, my former responsibilities feel different, like trying to put on my skinny jeans a few weeks after birth.  I can get them on, but they feel wrong in strange places.  But this new part of my job—it’s like I discovered a new brand of jeans specifically designed for my body after birth, that fit well no matter how many times I wash and dry them.

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